Divorce Options

We believe that all people are unique and that there is no such thing as a cookie cutter “one size fits all” approach to divorce. We have also seen the financial and emotional destruction that occurs in many divorces. Our objective is to provide you with choices that fit your unique situation. Throughout your consultation and/or case, we offer our expertise and experience to fully inform and educate our clients on the options at every turn. We help our clients avoid destructive adversarial approaches by offering needs based negotiation tactics and presenting less contentious methods of dispute resolution, such as Collaborative Family Law. It is not always easy, and some aspects cannot be controlled, but through knowledge and experience, a commitment to communication, and guiding you carefully through the process based on your priorities – you will experience a level of involvement from our firm that exactly matches what you need to get through your divorce, while avoiding many of the pitfalls. Along the way, we just happen to create the kind of results that – minimize pain, and lead to a successful future with your family. Of course, some divorces can only be solved through litigation. When litigation is unavoidable, The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson presents a formidable presence in the courtroom. Backed by over 30 years of focused experience in Marital and Family Law litigation, we provide aggressive, powerful representation on behalf of our client’s objectives.

The ending of your marriage is painful enough – you don’t need the divorce process adding to your distress. The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson will guide you to the right combination of approaches to achieve your goals. Below we have outlined the four common approaches towards divorce. Your divorce may utilize one or a combination of these approaches – it all depends on your unique situation and how your case progresses.

Explore Divorce Options:

Tabletop Approach

This is simple, direct conversation between the parties. These divorce options work well for parties who have mutually reached an agreement on some or all of the issues in their case and have agreed in concept to a divorce. Couples who take this approach generally have a high level of intra-personal communication skills and the issues they face in divorce are mostly functional and needs based as opposed to positional. This approach can be taken without the support of outside professionals; however, the participants can benefit from unbundled services from mental health, financial, or legal professionals. Often those using this approach can file as Joint Petitioners and fast-track their divorce.

Using this approach, The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson can be available on a consulting basis. The real benefit to you is that you can avoid many of the costs of the typical lawyer/client relationship while maintaining those advantages of review, consultation, and recommendations. Often times we refer to this approach as unbundled legal services for Pro Se divorces. If you are the type of person who is highly motivated, enjoys research, and has either a background or experience in negotiation or a similar skill set, then this process may be for you. Because you will participate actively in your own management of your case, you can utilize your lawyer’s skills in the most efficient way. As a result of using this approach, you will be fully prepared to present and negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement with your spouse. In addition, The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson also can review the parties’ agreements, draft and file paperwork, and submit the final divorce or modification to the court, ensuring the process does not go off track.

When evaluating divorce options, we recommend that you first participate in an initial divorce consultation with Charlie. During the initial divorce consultation, we will be able to assess together whether this is an approach that will work for you. Utilizing the initial divorce consultation in this way will provide you with valuable insights on the process and an exploration of the alternative approaches given your unique situation. This is time well spent, regardless of whether you decide to retain us for your divorce or other Family Law action. Go here to schedule an initial divorce consultation online. If you prefer, you are welcome to request an appointment by phone (561) 478-0312 or via the online form.

Remember, as with any form of legal representation, we can only represent one party. Our legal advice will be limited to your side of the divorce.

Mediation

In mediation, an impartial third party (the mediator) assists the negotiations of both parties to settle your case. However, the mediator cannot give either of you legal advice or be an advocate for either side. During the divorce mediation process, you will meet with your spouse and your chosen mediator. Each spouse is allowed to bring his or her own legal counsel and supporting documents. At any moment, either party may decide to walk away from the negotiations. If an agreement is reached, the mediator prepares a draft of the settlement terms for review and editing by both you and your lawyers.

Many states such as Florida now generally require couples who are seeking a dissolution of marriage to attend mediation. There are court appointed mediators and private mediators. Even if you reside in a state where mediation is not mandatory, it can still be very beneficial in your divorce case. If you are, in fact, pursuing mediation as your preferred approach, we recommend working with private mediators. Most private mediators often have prior experience as judges and/or are experienced Family Law practitioners. Their backgrounds and experience can lend greater depth and creativity to the negotiations and a good mediator is essential to the success of this process.

This process, when it leads to a settlement, generally is less expensive than litigation (going to trial). However, there is no set time period as to how long the mediation will last, so it could become quite expensive because the parties are paying the mediator’s fee as well as their lawyer’s hourly rate. Mediation is an informal process (out of court) and the process can vary depending upon the conditions agreed to by the parties. At the start of the mediation process, the mediator will outline how the process will be conducted and their role. The work of mediation can take place with a client and attorney in one room and the other client and attorney in another room. The mediator caucuses with each side, taking proposals back and forth, in an effort to find each party’s best compromise position. Alternatively, the spouses, their attorneys, and the mediator can conduct negotiations in the same room. Sometimes, the process can proceed without attorneys present. If an agreement is reached without your attorney present, you have 10 days to allow your attorney to review the mediated settlement agreement and object to it.

If no agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator will report the lack of agreement to the Court without comment or recommendation.

At the end of a productive mediation, you can walk out with an enforceable mediated settlement agreement. The mediated settlement agreement is then incorporated into a final judgment issued by the court.

Although Collaborative Family Law and Mediation are both forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, they are quite different from one another. In contrast to Collaborative Family Law, in Mediation the mediator and the lawyer do not share any of the risk of failing to reach an agreement. In fact, in mediation there is no consequence at all to the parties, the mediator or the attorneys. If no agreement is reached during mediation, then the normal course would be to prepare for litigation with the existing attorneys. Although mediation is consensual, the mediator has only limited influence on the parties. In mediation, the negotiation is based on the parties discussing and compromising on their positions, with the mediator’s assistance, instead of the mediator acting like a judge and deciding the issues for them. This makes it easier for either party to remain unreasonable or to stonewall in an effort to “win” and have you concede out of frustration.

As with any approach to divorce, we recommend that you first set up an initial divorce consultation with Charlie. During the initial divorce consultation, we will be able to assess together whether this is an approach that will work for you. Utilizing the initial divorce consultation in this way will provide you with valuable insights on the process and an exploration of the alternative approaches given your unique situation. This is time well spent, regardless of whether you decide to retain us for your divorce or modification action. Go here to schedule an initial divorce consultation online. If you prefer, you are welcome to request an appointment by phone (561) 478-0312 or via the online form.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce in Florida offers a less adversarial, shorter, and often less expensive, method for marriage dissolution. The Collaborative Approach requires both parties and their individual attorneys to commit themselves to resolving all issues of the dispute by negotiated agreement. The parties and their lawyers form a legal binding contract not to resort to going to court for any reason except to introduce their Agreement into evidence and obtain a Judgment. Litigation is not a part of Collaborative Divorce and the Collaborative Approach is applicable to all areas of Family Law.

Increasingly popular, Collaborative Family Law is an innovative method of handling Family Law matters, including divorces. Collaborative Divorce in Florida offers a less adversarial, shorter, and often less expensive, method for marriage dissolution, especially when compared to litigation. The Collaborative Approach requires both parties and their individual attorneys to resolve all issues of the divorce by negotiated agreement. If either sides resorts to litigation during the divorce, the attorneys are disqualified and must withdraw from the case. Emphasizing cooperation and problem-solving strategies rather than adversarial approaches and litigation, Collaborative Divorce avoids the destructive position based arguments associated with other approaches. Negotiations between the parties and their lawyers are needs (interest) based. This type of negotiation focuses on the mutual and individual priorities of the parties instead of delineating and staking out the exclusive and inflexible positions of the parties.

Within the Collaborative Divorce process, both spouses receive the support, protection and guidance of their own lawyers. Your lawyer is not impartial or neutral, so your selection process for retaining a lawyer for a Collaborative Divorce should follow a normal course as with any legal issue you face. A Collaborative Divorce differs from traditional litigation in that each spouse and their attorney sign a Participation Agreement which states they agree to negotiate in good faith and not to litigate. If any party to the Participation Agreement breaches the contract, there are significant consequences. BOTH attorneys must withdraw. If the Participation Agreement is broken, neither attorney, or their firm, can take the case to trial and earn additional fees. The parties themselves would need to retain new attorneys, and incur additional fees and possible court costs. Any of the experts that participated in the process also would be required to remove themselves from further involvement, as well. Collaborative Family Law works because, very simply, it is in everyone’s financial and emotional best interests to resolve the issues and enter into a Settlement Agreement. Because of the Participation Agreement, both parties and their lawyers bear a responsibility and an incentive to reach a successful outcome. The real benefit to you is an alignment of everyone’s purpose during the negotiation phase.

Neutral experts such as financial advisors and mental health professionals can join the collaborative team to provide advice and opinion to the parties. Experts remain neutral to avoid bias but there is an added benefit: shared cost. Negotiations are informal. There are individual and joint meetings. Individual meetings between you and your lawyer are used to develop a set of priorities and negotiation strategies that you would like to achieve during the Collaborative Process. The structured joint meetings are used to discuss the resolution of the divorce along with the guidance of any neutral experts. One major difference between the Collaborative Divorce approach and other approaches is that the clients themselves have the responsibility of crafting the terms of their divorce. As a result, you gain a sense of empowerment for having a part in reaching the settlement agreement versus having an outside third party (such as a court) decide the outcome for you. In addition, you prevent a stranger (a judge) from deciding your future.

As with any approach to divorce, we recommend that you first set up an initial divorce consultation with Charlie. During the initial divorce consultation, we will be able to assess together whether this is an approach that will work for you. Utilizing the initial divorce consultation in this way will provide you with valuable insights on the process and an exploration of the alternative approaches given your unique situation. This is time well spent, regardless of whether you decide to retain us for your divorce or modification action. Go here to schedule an initial divorce consultation online. If you prefer, you are welcome to request an appointment by phone (561) 478-0312 or via the online form.

Litigation

It is estimated that in the U.S. that more than 90% of divorce cases are settled. However, many divorces begin as contested matters… In other words, a settlement is only reached after a number of hearings, contested discovery, required depositions, lengthy trial preparation, and positional bargaining. In the few cases that do get tried in a court, the financial and emotional costs are incredibly high. Contested divorce cases are open to the public’s scrutiny, which further adds to the emotional burden carried by the spouses. The option to go to trial is like the antidote to a snakebite… if you go into the woods and get bit, you’ll want to have access to the antidote. Of course, you want to avoid getting bit in the first place.

It is critical to understand that divorce litigation is highly contentious, can be expensive, and is oftentimes lengthy (in some cases it could last years).

At The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, we make every effort to resolve divorce disputes without going to trial. However, we recognize that the animosity created by a dissolving marriage often makes child custody, property division and support negotiations through alternative dispute resolution ineffective (i.e. Mediation or Collaborative Family Law). Post settlement, there are some divorce modification actions that must use an alternative dispute resolution process (as required by the settlement agreement); however, there are those actions that do not or where required mediation fails. You may find yourself without an option other than litigation to be able to answer the action that has been brought against you.

In divorce litigation, attorneys and clients use the public court system to resolve issues surrounding the dissolution of a marriage. The attorneys present evidence and testimony (sometimes from hired experts) to a judge, who then decides the outcome. It is a formal, adversarial process that pits the attorneys on each side against each other and against you in an attempt to achieve their clients’ objectives. As one may expect, divorce litigation requires considerable preparation and effort. As a result, this approach to divorce is time consuming and costly. The attorney must first gather information about the other side’s case through a process called “discovery.” Along the way, attorneys must prepare for court hearings and take depositions. Hearings are used to settle certain matters before the trial and take place in the courtroom in front of the judge. As an example, a hearing could be used to decide whether a piece of evidence is admissible. Depositions are a discovery tool. Depositions are used to take testimony under oath, often from you or your spouse, but it could include the testimony of experts or other witnesses.

Being expensive, this contested litigation process is known to be extremely stressful for the parties. At the same time, for the attorneys, judges, experts and others, it is just another day at work. For these and other reasons, divorce cases are often settled before going to trial. Most cases settle out of fear of further litigation as opposed to being based on your legitimate interests and goals – in some ways you can think of it as settlement through attrition. If the divorce case is not settled, then the attorney will request a specific trial date. The preparation for trial and the trial itself will further add to the financial and emotional expense of the divorce. Depending on the court’s schedule, the trial may be scheduled several months after the initial request. Because of scheduling conflicts that arise in the court system, your trial date may be further moved back on the trial docket.

Litigation is still the most common way of obtaining a divorce today. Because The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson practices litigation for their clients every day, you can count on assertive formidable representation. You will benefit from Charlie’s continuous 30 plus years experience in divorce litigation.

As with any approach to divorce, we recommend that you first set up an initial divorce consultation with Charlie. During the initial divorce consultation, we will be able to assess together whether this is an approach that will work for you. Utilizing the initial divorce consultation in this way will provide you with valuable knowledge and insights regarding the divorce process and an exploration of the alternative approaches appropriate to your unique situation. This will be time well spent, regardless of whether you decide to retain us for your divorce or modification action. Go here to schedule an initial divorce consultation online. If you prefer, you are welcome to request an appointment by phone (561) 478-0312 or via the online form.


Ready to Talk?

They don’t teach a divorce class in school, so where do you go when you face the unexpected? Charlie’s focus is Florida Family Law. As a Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney, he has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience. He’s an expert in his field and he is committed to educating and informing clients so that they can make the best decisions, whether it is how to approach your spouse about divorce, how to choose the right attorney, or what process will offer the most benefit to you and your children. An initial consultation with Charlie will provide substantial assistance and advice. Our initial consultations are not a sales pitch, so there is a reasonable fee for the service. You can now schedule initial consultations online. This gives you the convenience of setting an appointment with us whether or not our office is open. Do you just have a quick question? Drop us a note instead!